235 Little Bourke St
Winters in Melbourne suck. But between the endless sheets of rain, damp socks, and fingers that never warm up, there are some bright spots. Steaming mugs of tea with a good book, cuddly jumpers, and best of all, Korean BBQ. There’s nothing like meat sizzling on a grill to warm the fingers and lift the spirits, and today we got our fix at Melbourne Dae Jang Geum Korean BBQ.
Unlike most other KBBQ places around Melbourne, Dae Jang Geum is huge. Heading up a rather grand set of stairs in Chinatown, we emerged in a cavernous room with blond wooden floors, and neatly lined up tables with enough room between them to drive a dune buggy.
Dae Jang Geum has a large selection of dishes, both a la carte and to barbeque. The clientele however, consists mostly of uni-aged Asian students intent on making the most of the cheap meats for the grill. There’s a two plate minimum order if you want them to fire up the hotplate but that’s not a problem, not a problem at all.
|(clockwise) Beef Sirloin ($16)/Sliced Pork Belly ($15)/Marinated Bulgogi Beef ($15)|
Erring on the side of deliciousness, we ordered three plates of meat, ready to devour them all. After lots of careful consideration, we settled on Beef Sirloin ($16), Sliced Pork Belly ($15), and Marinated Bulgogi Beef ($15).
Whilst waiting for our meats to cook, we dug into the generous plates of Banchan, accompanied by bowls of Rice ($2pp). The Kimchi was unfortunately rather bland and dry, but Chris really liked the Honeyed Potatoes, and I loved the chewy pieces of Marinated Gluten Cakes, which was in turns sweet, spicy and moreish.
The meat cooked quickly on the gas grill, and pretty soon we were tucking into plates of meat. I was really impressed with the quality of the sirloin – the small pieces of juicy, fatty, and impressively tender for meat that hasn’t been marinated. The pork belly was also predictably delicious, the bacon-like rashes sizzling to light crisp with a tantalising char to it, just waiting to be dipped into soybean paste. The bulgogi wasn’t as stunning, the soy marinade much too sweet and heavy in ginger, but what it lacked for in quality, it made up for in quantity. It was good to have some vegetables on the side as well, to clear the palate between mouthfuls of meat.
I’ve had better Korean BBQ elsewhere, with delicately marinated meats, higher quality cuts, and an actual charcoal grill, but so what? I thoroughly enjoyed the huge quantities of meat at what’s pretty much a steal, and the large dining room meant that our meal wasn’t rushed by both the staff and the suffocating smoke. I’d definitely come back again, if it’s just for a simple, delicious, protein-laden feed.
Rating: 13/20 – meat-fest
The rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.